ALEX Salmond has accused Nicola Sturgeon’s government of a “con” over the controversial Cambo oil field and of passing the buck over its development.

Referring to the SNP’s most famous slogan, Mr Salmond said: “You can't say ‘It’s Scotland's oil for 50 years’, and then now say the big decisions should be taken in Westminster.” 

The former First Minister, now leader of the Alba party, also said it was a “pretty sad comment” on SNP MSPs that his successor had turned to the Scottish Greens for ideas.

Mr Salmond, a former oil economist, made his comments on BBC Scotland’s The Nine last night as it discussed renewable energy and the oil and gas industry.

The Alba party is expected to demand the North East be declared a ‘World Energy Capital’ at its conference this weekend.

A key controversy at the moment is whether the UK Oil and Gas Authority should approve the Cambo oil field west of Shetland ahead of the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

Critics, including Ms Sturgeon’s two new Green ministers, argue the fossil fuels there and elsewhere should be left in the ground to avoid worsening the climate crisis.

Ms Sturgeon has asked Boris Johnson to “reassess” whether the Cambo licence should be granted.

However, under pressure from the Tories about potential job losses in the North East, she has conspicuously avoided objecting to Cambo herself, saying the decision is one for the UK agency.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater backs occupation of UK Government building

Speaking on The Nine, Mr Salmond was emphatic that Cambo and other projects should be approved in order to “mobilise the remainder of oil and gas” in the North Sea.

He said “zero carbon impositions” could be attached to the licences to force the companies involved to invest in renewables or decarbonise their oil field project.

He said: “Shutting down the North Sea would be daft.

It would put 100,000 people out of work, it would increase the carbon footprint by importing LPG [liquefied petroleum gas]  which is twice as carbon intensive as North Sea gas. Far better to find a zero carbon route from oil development and shift the emphasis into the renewables revolution.”

He went on: “Now there’s two big cons on the Cambo field, for example.

“One’s from the Westminster Government, which says you can’t change licence conditions that were first made in 2001.

"That's a nonsense. It happens all the time. 

“And the second’s from the Scottish Government who says, We'll leave it all to Westminster [for decision]. You can't say ‘It’ Scotland's oil for 50 years’, and then now say the big decisions should be taken in Westminster. 

“We should go ahead with oil and gas development and place a zero carbon imposition on the developments, which the companies can either meet by investing in renewables, or alternatively by decarbonizing the project.” 

Asked if the SNP’s joint government arrangement with the Greens would provide some of the extra imagination he wanted to see in the energy industry, Mr Salmond said: “Well, apparently, the First minister said that she wanted the Greens for ideas, which was pretty sad comment on the SNP MSPs.

“I think if it’s going to be, ‘Let’s shut down in the North Sea’, that is not a feasible strategy.

“You cannot say to 100,000 workers in Scotland, We're going to put you out of business

“The trick in government is to find a way to generate the national resources and the jobs for Scotland and the world's benefit. It wouldn’t benefit anybody to shut down the North Sea. 

“It’ll increase our carbon footprint.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon's economic adviser warns of 20-year economic transition after independence

Asked last month whether she was for or against Cambo, the First Minister dodged the question, telling STV News: “I think there’s real doubts about whether it is consistent with our climate change obligations to go ahead with new oil and gas production.

“And that’s a pretty significant shift for my party and the government that I lead.

“But of course, I also have to recognise that in the case of Cambo, a licence has already been granted, so any government has to go through a process if it’s going to change that and that’s the process I’m asking the Prime Minister to commit to.”